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Coronavirus Impact on OHO Hearings

In response to COVID-19 and its prevalence within the United States, the Office of Hearing Officers (OHO) is assessing on a case-by-case basis whether it will conduct Disciplinary Proceedings remotely or in person with added safety precautions. OHO staff will contact the parties to communicate the hearing schedule.

If warranted by the current COVID-19-related public health risks posed by an in-person hearing, OHO may require that a hearing occur by videoconference (via Zoom) rather than in person. If OHO requires a hearing to occur by videoconference, it provides high-quality, private, user-friendly options for conducting video hearings and sharing documents remotely. Case Administrators from OHO virtually attend hearings to provide technical support and facilitate the videoconference. Hearings conducted by videoconference enable all parties and witnesses to see, hear, and communicate with the Hearing Panel while safely participating in the hearing from their homes or offices. OHO also makes available a Virtual Hearing Guide for Parties and three FINRA Office of Hearing Officers instructional videos on:

Zoom Basics for Disciplinary Hearings

How to Set Up Your Environment for Virtual Disciplinary Hearings

Effective Zoom Practices for Disciplinary Hearings

FINRA filed a temporary rule change for immediate effectiveness, SR-FINRA-2020-027, which temporarily amended, among others, FINRA Rules 9261 and 9830 to allow hearings in connection with disciplinary actions and temporary and permanent cease and desist orders to be conducted by video conference, if warranted by the current COVID-19-related public health risks posed by an in-person hearing. The temporary amendments in SR-FINRA-2020-027, became operative on October 1, 2020, and are in effect, by extension, through October 31, 2022, pending any future extensions.

Furthermore, FINRA has partnered with public health experts to create health, safety, and security preparedness plans for in-person hearings.

Note that in Disciplinary and Expedited Proceedings OHO serves and accepts service of notices, orders, pleadings, and other documents by email.

Parties with questions about these or any other aspects of pending cases should contact the OHO Case Administrator assigned to their proceedings.